I was sad to send my 10 BR turkeys off to the butcher on Monday, but pleased at how they looked and weighed in, once processed and dressed and bagged and labeled. And, I'm happy knowing they will grace someone's Thanksgiving meal tommorrow. One of them, a big tom, was hard to hold while I was catching him off the roost in the pre-dawn hours and putting him in the truck, and he flapped his wing hard and it gave me a bruise on my forehead (of all places). I decided the bruise was symbolic and was to keep me conscious of the reality of butchering such wonderful creatures. Even just 10 turkeys is a lot of work to raise ... I think back to the past 10 months of care -- last February finding a new BR tom for a breeder was not easy (my last tom was killed by a fox); preparing nesting areas for the hens; wondering if it was OK to let my lame hen sit on a nest (she did great); trying to keep the hens from running off to nest elsewhere (one nested in a huge briar patch down by the creek and successfully hatched poults despite it being fox territory, though I saw signs that she'd been attacked one time and for the remainder of the summer was missing all her tail feathers but one!); keeping the tiny fragile poults safe and healthy and juggling their living quarters from nest, to cage, to free-range, to joining the larger social group; to watching the hens with their incredible mothering ability as they sacrifice themselves under any circumstance to be guard and barrier to dangers against their babies; to the humorousness of turkey behavior and all the times we bonded with the friendly birds; to having to rush home from work to lock the turkey coop for the night; to keeping the turkeys from fighting too much or chasing the poor wild bunnies around the pasture; to calling the dog officer on a neighbor whose dog repeatedly came to my farm and "hunted" my turkeys and killed several; to worrying they weren't going to be fat enough for Thanksgiving; to mentally accepting that these birds I spent so much time with were going to be killed this week; to accepting that fact and trying to be conscious of my actions (instead of being numb to the death of living creatures); to delivering them; to hearing from a customer that my dressed turkeys looked much better than those of a big "gourmet" turkey distributor. It's been a long year, and a heck of a lot of work! Thank you all you BYC turkey-raisers out there (Ivan, Steve, Marlin and others) for answering all my many questions over the past 2 years... I hope that all makes sense... I wanted to share all these trials and tribulations and enjoyment I've had with my turkeys...since this seems like an appropriate day... and would love hearing other stories too... Happy thanksgiving!